In recent years there has been a lot of talk about vitamin D. And with good reason.
This fat-soluble vitamin, also called the sun vitamin, plays a very important role in the proper functioning of the body.
We have already dealt with the risks associated with vitamin D deficiency, let’s instead make an overall summary to answer some of the most important questions that people ask and are asking about this substance which, to all intents and purposes, behaves like a hormone.
Vitamin D occurs in two forms in fortified foods such as milk or food supplements:
- Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol
- Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol
In general, there is the belief, gained from daily experience, that vitamin D is used exclusively to strengthen bones, since it is prescribed to combat osteoporosis in old age.
And if this is true, it may surprise you to know that a correct daily administration can help our body and our mind in several directions.
Unfortunately, vitamin D is not as available in food , as other vitamins, such as those of group B, so much so that the main source of supply is sunlight.
Daily exposure to the sun, in regions with a mild or temperate climate like ours, could be enough on its own to “recharge” vitamin D levels. But it is also true that absorption is hindered by other factors, not least the fact of resorting to sun protection, essential on hot days and for certain skin types.
For years, doctors and scientists and government institutions have been wondering about the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D, wondering if the indicated measure (5 micrograms per day according to the Ministry of Health) is sufficient.
We were talking about the importance of vitamin D.
What functions is it involved in and why is it spoken of as a hormone?
One of the main roles of vitamin D is to regulate and protect the immune system . It also promotes the absorption of calcium which is essential for the health of bones and teeth, for this reason it is added in fortified milk for children, during the growth phase, and in cases of osteoporosis.
Vitamin D maintains the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, which are essential throughout the development phase. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with diseases such as senile dementia, schizophrenia and hypertension.
High levels of vitamin D that do not exceed toxicity levels have been associated with:
- The prevention of some cancers (read “More vitamin D means less cancer”)
- Reduction of risks associated with heart disease (while there are no conclusive studies for diabetes).
- Improved immune system and resistance to cold season ailments
- Mood enhancement
- Reduction of symptoms of depression
- Reduction of fractures to the vertebrae and pelvis in elderly subjects
Where is vitamin D found? In which foods?
To obtain the recommended daily dose of vitamin D, as mentioned, it is necessary to expose yourself to sunlight with bare skin, arms, legs, face . Ideal conditions only on the beach probably or during a sightseeing tour.
However, absorption is in fact prevented by sunscreen, recommended during the hottest hours, those where exposure is greatest and most effective.
After all, exposure without UVA protection is counterproductive to skin health; Exposure may be compromised by the presence of even slightly hazy clouds, by the time you leave, by seasonality, by latitude, by the presence of atmospheric pollution.
Reason why you need to balance with food or food supplements.
Vitamin D is rare in foods since absorption occurs through the skin, however there are sources that contain it:
- Fish (in particular non-farmed salmon, herring, tuna and sardines in oil, cod liver oil, mackerel);
- Some species of mushrooms not very common;
- Chicken egg yolk (read this article on the importance of egg as a food);
- Cheese, milk, yogurt;
- Fortified foods.
To promote the absorption of calcium in the bones, it should be taken in conjunction with vitamin K2.
In case of insufficient sun exposure or evident low levels in the blood, the doctor prescribes supplementary supplementation through tablets, ampoules or oxymetholon injectable solutions (the best known commercially is the dibase) which may contain very high doses, up to 300,000 IU.
Questions and answers about vitamin D
- Is it true that vitamin D taken continuously improves depression or mood?
There have been studies showing this evidence, but it cannot be considered conclusive.
- Is there an overdose of vitamin D?
Even at high doses, vitamin D does not seem to present toxicity problems, but the intake exceeding 10,000 IU per day should be constantly monitored. Furthermore, it is not suitable for those suffering from kidney stones and hypertension.
- How much sun do you need to take to get the right amount of vitamin D?
The amount of vitamin D produced through sun exposure depends on the latitude, the period of year and time of day, as well as climatic conditions.In the summer months it is possible to easily reach the desired levels by being exposed for thirty minutes a day, not using sunscreen, during the hot hours. The accumulated vitamin D levels can be used in winter, when there is less exposure.
- Which food contains the most vitamin D?
Fish such as herring and salmon and the yolk of the common chicken egg.
- What are the risks associated with vitamin D deficiency?
People get sick more because the immune system is weakened; the most tangible consequence in addition to fatigue is the weakening of the bones, which in elderly people can lead to an increase in fractures.
- How much vitamin D should children take?
Vitamin D is very important in growth because it facilitates the absorption of calcium, which is why it is often found as a fortifying food in milk or yogurt.When we are children there is usually a good sun exposure, if our children play outdoors (the advice is always valid and there is no tablet or smartphone that takes), but it is also true that breast milk does not contain significant percentages of vitamin D so it is normal to include vitaminized milk in the diet.
- Does making an artificial lamp increase vitamin D levels?
Yes, but it is not recommended especially for younger subjects. My advice is always to go out into the fresh air and if you can’t go to the beach, plan for a walk. It is good for the mood as well as for the body. The sun bed is harmful.
The intake of vitamin D should be part of a correct lifestyle, aimed at physical and mental well-being.
To live a healthy life you must not only have the right levels, but also know those mechanisms that release your energy, make you feel less tired, more focused and in a good mood.
A well-being which is the basis for achieving your personal and professional goals.
Often behind the lack of results there is a sum of wrong behaviors and bad eating habits.
Start correcting them by watching the free video lesson ” The timing of Nutrition “, taken from the “Potential Nutrition” course. Trust that you will learn a lot.